Lee Barnett, Founder and Director at Caspian One, speaks exclusively to Production 360° about recruitment and managing expectations

What it means to manage expectations – creating an experience

Managing expectations is a fundamental ingredient when creating positive interactions that are memorable… for all the right reasons. Whether you’re ordering food in a restaurant or buying from an online retailer, knowing when your food will arrive or how long you’ll wait for delivery – and then having those expectations met, can make a huge difference to your experience.

Being ‘in the dark’ only opens the door to dangerous assumptions, misconceptions and, in the case of recruitment – negativity for employers, job seekers and consultants alike. On the other hand, hiring can be an enjoyable experience when all parties work harmoniously.

To explore this topic further we sat down with Lee Barnett, Director of Caspian One – a skills acquisition company working within the broadcast, media and entertainment technology ecosystem. For more information, see www.caspianone-broadcast.com.


Lee, what does managing expectations mean to you?

So, the principles are simple, critical even… honest and open communication, that’s the crux of it. Treating people how you’d like to be treated and having an empathetic approach.

For me, the meaning of expectations management is to ensure everybody involved in the recruitment process is entirely aware of what’s going on, at each stage, with no surprises. A good experience is usually well managed, and it’s well managed because someone has the right mindset to create that process and take responsibility.


Can you expand on this; what is happening with candidates?

Typically, when candidates speak about their recruitment experiences, any fault comes back to communication or a lack thereof. This can often be easily avoided simply by setting the scene, asking the right questions and providing empathetic feedback.

Candidates don’t always have a realistic view of what they want, whether that relates to demand in the market for their skills and what people will pay for them or comprehension of how long the process may take. In these cases, the onus is on the recruiter to be genuine. To share with the applicant what they know and their market insights. To define what is possible and not hold back on saying “no, I can’t help you this time” – especially when the candidate’s demand is outside their remit.

Let’s say, for example, that the skills of a particular job seeker are very niche – meaning that we only get a suitable job for them perhaps, a handful of times each year. After an initial qualification call, the chances are that they won’t be spoken to again for a few months. If the candidate is not aware of this, they’ll have a poor experience waiting at the end of the phone for a call that doesn’t come.

However, if the consultant was to invest time explaining the circumstances and setting expectations for future communication, the whole experience would vastly improve. You can even put the onus back on the candidate to reconnect.


How does this work then, when we look beyond initial applications?

You take this all the way through the candidate’s journey. Doing so is highly beneficial to the process, creating nothing but positivity– which can hugely help reputation. Both for the brand(s) and the individuals involved.

As a recruiter, if you know a client will be slow making decisions or that paperwork will take two weeks to complete etc., sharing this with the candidate is vital, as it prevents them from being left stressed, nervous and open to dropping out. If on the other hand as a candidate, you have personal or professional circumstances that you don’t disclose (which later come to light), these can be significantly damaging.

From our perspective, showing empathy and being mindful of treating people how we’d like to be treated, is of utmost importance.


Switching focus, where is the value in managing expectations for clients/employers?

Typically, clients will have some preconceived notions about the recruitment process; when you can start working on the vacancy, availability of skills, timescales etc. Many are savvy enough to appreciate the steps involved in finding capable resources – particularly when we’re talking about niche roles. However, this doesn’t mean to say their experiences are all equal.

Someone who has only employed, for example, readily available IT Engineers in the past may expect a high number of applicable CVs in just a few days. This is because that market is relatively stable, and there are plenty of talented engineers quickly available.

This isn’t the case when the arisen skills need is highly-specialist, scarcely available, outside of budget or aligned with new technologies and odd locations. These factors can take the recruitment process from a few days to weeks.

Not managing expectations on this from day one can, as with the jobseekers, be highly detrimental to both parties. It opens the door to unrealistic assumptions where the employer and recruiter are not in alignment. Again, the best results come from open and honest communication between both parties.

It’s on the consultant to ask the right questions – is the skillset realistic? Is the budget, right? What are the delivery timescales? Is additional information required alongside the CV to help with the process etc? Equally, it is on the employer to ensure the recruiter has all the requirements and information necessary, as suddenly adding an additional step in the process or job demand can throw everything off course.

Answering your question directly, the value for employers is that they are fully aware and in control of proceedings – making for a less stressful, more enjoyable experience. This is equally true for jobseekers and consultants alike, when all parties collaborate with clear communication.

Personally, I’m most interested in generating, managing and maintaining great relationships with all people I work with. To do this, sometimes there’s a gap between vision and reality that needs to be traversed by all involved. Setting clear expectations does this and while in the real world it may not always be 100% achievable, it’s something I strive for.


This interview was held with Director and Founder of Caspian One, Lee Barnett.

For more information on how the team at Caspian One are meeting the contract, permanent and project-based skills resourcing demands of businesses across the Broadcast Media and Entertainment technology markets – visit caspianone.com/broadcast-media or email broadcast@caspianone.com / tel: +44 (0) 1202 979 700